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A writer, a book distributor, and an oil company walk into a gas station … 

A writer, a book distributor, and an oil company walk into a gas station … 

Free ebooks and audiobooks at the … gas station!?

The e-book and audiobook market in The Netherlands is at least … trying.

Free ebooks and audiobooks at the ... gas station!?

Free ebooks and audiobooks at the … gas station!?

I got a flyer in the (snail) mail here in The Netherlands that advertised free e-books and free audio books.

As a reader, I thought, “Great! Let’s see what this is all about. Maybe there are some titles that my kids would like to read in Dutch.” (We now live in The Netherlands, but my boys grew up in the U.S. and can use the practice in Dutch reading.)

As a writer, I thought, “Hmm, maybe a new channel to place my books and even more reason to translate some of them into Dutch.” (I’m in the process of translating the first kids’ book into Dutch and German.) But who knows, maybe this free gift has English-language books too.

I decided to dig a little deeper.

A, uh, well, unique combination turns out is behind this:

  1. A little-known book distributor (publisher? unclear). I can’t figure out where they’re based.
  2. An oil company (gas station) from the U.S.

It turns out it’s something of a membership site (like Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited or Kobo Plus) where for a monthly fee, you receive a certain number or an unlimited number of books that come from a certain pool of books that choose to be in that pool. If you’re a voracious reader, it’s an awesome deal: like Netflix but for books.

Free ebooks and audiobooks at the ... gas station!?

Just follow all of these steps and get your free books.

As an English-language writer living in Europe, I’m always interested in getting my books into new markets. As a reader, I was curious as to what they were offering.

Turns out, it’s a great deal if … you like the books they choose for you. Here are the details:

Elke maand de mooiste verhalen voor jou geselecteerd! (Every month the best stories selected for you!)

8 ebooks & audiobooks voor € 3.99 per maand (8 e-books & audiobooks for €3,99 per month)

I couldn’t find any more information about which books they were going to send you each month. It just says “the best stories.” But what if those stories aren’t what you want? Can you choose others? I would hope so. So, as a reader, I’m skeptical.

As a writer, sure, if I can get into their pool of books, it actually might be interesting considering that they’re going to send my books to everyone (?) on their list. Then again, back to the reader, if I get a book from a book club, even if it’s free or part of the program and I don’t want to read it, I’m not going to read it.

My chances are getting slimmer and slimmer.

Back to the big picture.

They’re trying. It’s better than nothing. There’s activity in the market. There are e-readers and ads for them. Promotions, deals, free e-books and free audio books. As readers and writers, we can only applaud this.

If becomes the next Amazon, we can revisit their amazing gas station giveaway strategies. Until then, I think I’ll stick to Amazon Kindle Unlimited.

About The Author


I don't like to call them excuses. They're priorities. With a handful of exceptions, we usually have a choice in our actions. They just need to be prioritized.

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